The quota assigned to a county represents the number of antlerless deer a hunter may take in that county above the basic bag limits. A license is needed for each deer taken.
Determining bonus antlerless quotas is based on a variety of factors – crop damage reports, deer-vehicle collisions, deer-vehicle collisions per billion miles driven, and landowner and hunter surveys that measure individual satisfaction level with deer numbers per county.
“We also look at antlered and antlerless harvest and the proportion relative to each other, and we look at bucks killed per square mile of habitat,” DNR deer management biologist Chad Stewart said.
Data collection starts immediately after each season’s deer harvest numbers are tabulated.
Stewart develops his recommendations and provides the data to DNR district wildlife biologists for their input and recommendations. Indiana Conservation Officers also provide input.
Each recommendation is presented to a panel of administrators from DNR Fish & Wildlife and Law Enforcement. The panel reviews the three sets of recommendations to establish the bonus antlerless quota for each county.
If a county’s bonus antlerless quota is changed, the new quota usually is left in place for a couple of years to evaluate impact.
“If you change it year to year, you don’t have a good feel for the impact of those recommendations,” Stewart said. “We want to see a trend manifest itself over a period before making additional adjustments.”
As a result of the quota changes, 63 counties will be included in the 2014 late antlerless season, six fewer than in 2013. Only counties with a quota of 4 or above are eligible for the late antlerless season, which begins Dec. 26 this year.
“We made an effort in 2012 to begin reducing the deer herd, and that appears to be working,” Stewart said. “The whole point of the late antlerless season is to provide additional opportunity for hunters to put extra pressure on the antlerless deer herd.”
Hunters harvested 10,091 deer in the late antlerless season in 2012, contributing to an overall record harvest of 136,249 deer. In 2013, the total harvest of 125,635 deer included almost 6,500 during the late antlerless season.
“With the harvests that we’ve been seeing over the past couple of seasons, this pressure is no longer needed in some counties to get the deer harvest where we want it to be,” Stewart said.